Hikers return to Annapurna circuit as Nepal opens doors wide

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The Annapurna region has started welcoming tourists without quarantine on its popular hiking trails as Nepal tries to restart its pandemic-ravaged tourism industry.

Circling the Annapurna Mountains, the Annapurna Circuit hiking trail winds through the central Himalayas of Nepal through one of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet. The trekking route is triple endowed with breathtaking scenery, architecture and culture.

The Annapurna Conservation Area, a protected area of ​​7,629 km² comprising villages, hills, valleys, gorges and lakes overlooked by snow-capped Annapurna, spans the five districts of Manang, Mustang, Kaski , Myagdi and Lamjung.

In September, after Nepal lifted remaining coronavirus restrictions, 76 hikers led the first foray into the Annapurna region. “In the first week of October, 96 foreign hikers entered the Annapurna circuit via Manang,” said Lekhnath Gautam, head of the Annapurna Conservation Area project unit office. in Manang.

A few days ago, a group of 40 tourists, including seven disabled tourists, chartered a plane and landed at Humde Airport in Manang. “October looks to be encouraging,” said Binod Gurung, president of the Manang Tourism Entrepreneurs Association.

“All hotels have been closed for a year and a half due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The arrival of hikers on the hiking trails encouraged the industry.

On September 23, the government removed the seven-day quarantine requirement and resumed issuing visas on arrival to all vaccinated foreign travelers in a bid to revive the virus-ravaged tourism industry.

Visitors must have received their last dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 full days before entering Nepal. Those who are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated will not obtain a visa on arrival. They must obtain their entry permits from Nepalese diplomatic missions and spend 10 days in quarantine in hotels classified by the government.

The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal was named one of Lonely Planet’s 10 Most Amazing Travel Experiences in the World in October of last year.

The world’s number one travel guide publisher said in its latest Ultimate Travel List that Covid-19 has resulted in travel restrictions around the world and cut the wings of travelers until 2020.

For landscapes and cultural diversity, this has long been considered the best trek in Nepal and one of the classic walks in the world.

The trail follows the Marsyangdi Valley north of the main Himalayan range and crosses a pass of 5,416 meters to descend into the spectacular desert and Tibetan style landscapes of the upper Kali Gandaki valley.

“There is no single restriction on the Annapurna circuit. It is fully open to all visitors, ”said Bishnu Lamichhane, head of the Manang district. “All trekking routes except a few damaged by rainfall are safe.”

But visitors are required to submit a negative Covid-19 report obtained within the previous 72 hours before hitting the trail in Manang and Mustang. “We want to get the message out to the world that Annapurna is safe,” Lamichhane said.

The circuit did not welcome any trekker in January and February. In March there were 66 hikers which rose to 366 in April.

In the spring, the government reopened the country to foreign travelers in hopes of boosting the economy and jobs by boosting tourism.

Nepal subsequently received a record number of foreigners aspiring to climb the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, as the Covid-19 pandemic appeared to be waning. But Delta’s epidemics and the slow rollout of vaccines have again cast a shadow over tourism in the country.

After the second wave of Covid-19 that struck in April, the country slipped into a devastating crisis and authorities enforced strict lockdown measures. About two months later, the restrictions were gradually relaxed; and since September 1, almost everything has been allowed to reopen.

As the government imposed the second lockdown on April 29, the number of hikers on the Annapurna Circuit fell to 48. June and July each saw a lone hiker. According to government statistics, there were three vagrants in August.

The Annapurna Circuit and Annapurna Base Camp trekking routes are among the world’s greatest adventure hiking trails. Almost 200,000 foreign tourists flocked to the Annapurna Conservation Area each year.

The Annapurna region was opened to foreign hikers in 1977.

On June 3, 1950, the French Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal became the first mountaineers to climb the imposing Himalayan summit Annapurna I. This triumph, an unimaginable struggle against hardship, ended without additional oxygen. It was also the first time that an eight thousand of the 14 in the world had climbed.

Herzog wrote a book called Annapurna on Mountaineering which was published in 1952. Over 11 million copies were sold (up to 2000), making it one of the best-selling books of the history of mountaineering.

This book was considered to be an important step in the development of mountaineering tourism in Nepal.

The original Annapurna Circuit route started at Dumre Township on the Kathmandu-Pokhara Highway and ended in Pokhara, and lasted approximately 23 days. After the roads were built, the initial 23-day march was reduced to just five days.


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